Cheng Hoe unperturbed by UAE coach’s assessment of his players


Ready for action: Luqman Hakim Shamsudin (centre), who currently plays for KV Kortrijk in Belgium, is set to earn his first national cap in Dubai.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia are not intimidated although United Arab Emirates coach Bert van Marwijk does not see Harimau Malaya as a big threat.

Instead, national coach Tan Cheng Hoe says he will let his men do the talking on the pitch when they face the hosts in the second round of the 2022 World Cup-2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Dubai on June 3.

After the opening match against UAE at Zabeel Stadium, Malaysia will take on Vietnam at Al Maktoum Stadium on June 11 and then Thailand at the same venue on June 15.

For Cheng Hoe and his team, the mission is simple – to win all three matches and take Malaysia to the next round of the pre-World Cup qualifiers.

“I am very happy to have our first full squad this time. The players looked happy together and focused on the challenges ahead, ” said Cheng Hoe after arriving in Dubai on Thursday.

“There is flow in the team as we have options to choose players for all the positions.

“It’s the first time I have gathered all the best players in one team.

“I will use the two upcoming friendly matches to see the best combination for the first team, ” said Cheng Hoe.

They will play a friendly against Kuwait tomorrow and then fly to Manama where they will play another friendly against Bahrain on May 28.

“The weather suits us so far and the only thing that is not in favour is that we can’t count on home support this time like previously, ” he said.

“But I believe our players are mentally tough for this challenge. Based on past history, it’s hard to get the best result against UAE and now, they are the hosts as well.

“But we will focus on our own preparation and I’m confident the boys will not let me down, ” he added.

The national senior team have assembled their strongest side in years with Kosovo-born Liridon Krasniqi set to make his international debut.

The JDT player, who is currently on loan at Newcastle Jets, arrived in Dubai a few days ago together with Thailand-based players Junior Eldstal and Dominic Tan.

Youngster Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin also reached Dubai yesterday to complete the list of 25 players for the senior team. The 19-year-old currently plays for KV Kortrijk in Belgium and is set to earn his first national cap in Dubai.

The team went through their first training session in Dubai last night.

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